Device reviews
    21 August 2013


    Sony's PlayStation 4 revealed

    The PS4 points the way for new-generation games consoles, writes ROGAN LOUWRENS. Caption: Sony's Mark Cerny demonstrates the new controller.

    The PlayStation 4 was introduced at a live-streamed meeting in New York at 18:00 EST on 20 February. The console itself was not shown, and no mention was made of pricing or release date – other than an indication that the system would be out in time for the “holiday” period – but the meeting marked the first official information on a new PlayStation since the PS3 was launched in 2006.

    “The living room is no longer the centre of the PlayStation ecosystem – the gamer is,” said Sony Computer Entertainment president and group CEO Andrew House, who kicked off the two-hour meeting before Mark Cerny, lead system architect on the PS4 project, outlined the system’s functionality.

    Power play

    The PS4 will make playing games with incredibly detailed graphics possible. “The processing power of this system is an exponential leap over its predecessors,” Cerny said, showing off the device’s eight-core processor and “highly enhanced” graphics processing unit by running a physics simulation modelling the fall of a million objects.

    The processing punch will be backed by eight gigabytes of high-speed memory – 16 times that of the PS3 – and data will be stored on a hard drive. Players will be able to continue games where they left off with the touch of a button, and it will be possible to download games in the background, “or even with the main power off”, Cerny said.

    Social animal

    The ability to experience games socially is key to the PS4, said Cerny: “There's no doubt that play is no longer an isolated pastime.” With this in mind, the PS4 DualShock controller has a "share" button that will record and upload video, allowing friends to watch and comment in real time, and providing a platform for famous players to show off.

    PS4 owners will be able to keep tabs on their gaming network through “companion” apps for smartphones and the PS Vita, he said. Movies and music will also be accessible through the PS4’s redesigned operating system, which will include a web browser.

    In control

    The DualShock 4, a refined take on the PS3 controller, features a front-facing touchpad, the previously mentioned "share" button, a central speaker (along with a headphone jack), and a coloured light bar marking the integration of the PlayStation Move technology. “This new controller was designed in tandem with a second peripheral: a stereo camera that can track the 3D position of the controller via its light bar,” Cerny said.


    DESTINY... One of the brand-new games to look forward to.

    The tweaked controller will give players “a much tighter sense of control”, he added.

    Swimming with the stream

    Though the PS4 does not feature backwards compatibility to play older games, it will be able to play legacy titles streamed from cloud gaming platform Gaikai, explained David Perry, Gaikai CEO.

    The streaming technology will also allow people to to try games out before they buy them, and will be able to beam gameplay to the PS Vita, meaning it will be possible to continue playing if somebody else wants to use the television.

    The games

    A gaming console’s success invariably rides on one thing: the games. Here’s an idea of what to look forward to:

    Destiny: A brand new game by Bungie, Destiny will be a cutting-edge first-person shooter set in a detailed sci-fi world and integrating aspects from massively multiplayer online games;

    Knack: This Pixar-style action-adventure will give players control of Knack himself, a high-tech but soulful military weapon with the power to disassemble and reassemble himself to take on different forms.

    Watch_Dogs: Hacking will take centre stage in this open-world sandbox game, in which vigilante Aiden Pearce will be able to manipulate technology to take down criminals.

    InFAMOUS: Second Son: The third title in the critically lauded InFAMOUS series follows 20-year-old protagonist Deslin Rowe, who gains the ability to manipulate – and transform into – smoke.

    Killzone: Shadow Fall: Set 30 years after the events that culminated in Killzone 3, Shadow Fall promises an all-new take on the interplanetary space opera.

    The competition

    Wii U
    Release date: November 2012
    Price: R3 999 – R4 599

    Already on the market, the Wii U has a tablet-like controller that can either show additional information or be used as an additional, portable main display. The Wii U is significantly less powerful than the PS4; Nintendo will be hoping its emphasis on innovation will replicate the success of the Wii, which outsold the PS3 and Xbox 360, but so far the Wii U has garnered disappointing sales.

    Xbox 720
    Release date: unknown
    Price: unknown

    Little is known for sure about Microsoft’s unconfirmed new system, reputedly codenamed “Durango”; if industry leaks are anything to go by, like the PS4 it will have an eight-core processor and a powerful graphics unit. With similar hardware, the PS4 and the so-called “Nextbox” will likely rely on their games catalogues to attract customers. 

    Release date: June 2013
    Price: US$99 (±R900)

    Running a modified version of Android, the Ouya has been called the world’s first “open source” console: a low-cost, experiment-friendly games machine for the mass market. The Ouya’s hardware is designed for mobile platforms and thus comparatively weak, but its price and versatility are likely to be big drawcards.

    Wrapping up 

    While there are no details yet on the PS4’s pricing, it seems safe to say it will be expensive; the PS3 retailed for nearly R7 000 when it launched in South Africa. It’s also likely that SA will only get the console in 2014, seeing that the PS3 got here four months after its initial release.

    Those who missed Sony’s live stream can view a replay here .